Nevertheless, some good is found in you, for you destroyed the Asheroth out of the land, and have set your heart to seek God.
2 Chronicles 19:3
Weary, emotionally exhausted, in wonder at the close call of losing his life, filthy from battle, maybe wary of how God will treat him after this debacle of a battle, Jehoshaphat starts toward home. A man on a pilgrimage, wanting to hope but knowing he deserves no mercy from his God. Been there?
Ahab, the coward who disguised himself as a warrior in order to protect himself still dies in battle. Jehoshaphat on the other hand, obviously the King who is leading, escapes and returns to Judah. Was it on his way home that the details of the battle started moving him back to place of humility before God? A “random” arrow” killed King Ahab. God turned back the enemy coming against Jehoshaphat. What could he expect now from God? Jehu meets him before he arrives home and Jehoshaphat receives a dire rebuke coupled with another grace gift from the Lord:
But Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him and said to King Jehoshaphat, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord? Because of this, wrath has gone out against you from the Lord. Nevertheless, some good is found in you, for you destroyed the Asheroth out of the land, and have set your heart to seek God.”
2 Chronicles 19:2-3
Don’t miss the irony of this moment. Many years before, Hanani rebuked King Asa, the father of Jehoshaphat, for the same bad choices. Now the son of Hanani issues the a similar rebuke to the son of Asa.
Please do not miss this powerful word, Nevertheless.
Think of it:
You betrayed your family, nevertheless, I see your repentance.
You stole from your employer, nevertheless, I see you love my Son.
You gossiped about your best friend and broke her heart, nevertheless, I see you’re longing to do whatever it takes to glorify me in the redeeming of this relationship.
You screamed at your child again and again, nevertheless, I see you’re longing to display my Son to your little ones.
You aligned yourself with a corrupt business partner and compromised your integrity, nevertheless, I know you have a heart for Me.
Nevertheless – there is hope.
You fill in the blank. In the heat of battle, Jehoshaphat realizes he cannot do anything to save himself. Without the Lord’s intervention, he is lost and will die. God saves him, yet Jehoshaphat knows his foolishness put him in that life-threatening place. Some of his fighting men died because of his foolish alliance with an evil man. The consequences of his sin would be “ever before him”. We know he is broken by his choices because Jehu tells him that God sees his renewed commitment to seek God. Instead of deserved punishment, God extends undeserved mercy.
My friends, what a picture of our salvation. Do you see Jesus in this story? Each of us who knows Jesus as Savior has been plucked from eternal destruction. Just as Jehoshaphat did not deserve God’s help in the battle, we don’t deserve the mercy or grace God extends to us, first in salvation and then every day when we make sinful choices. What will we do with this grace upon grace
Jehoshaphat faces a crossroads. Will he respond in repentance and humility to this rebuke, acknowledging his sinful independence from God, or will he bristle with pride and rationalize his behavior? Take note that Jehu’s message must have sounded familiar to Jehoshaphat. God’s message did not change even though it came from two different sources: Hanani to Asa and then Jehu to Jehoshaphat. God keeps bringing Jehoshaphat back to His way. His message does not change because culture demands it or our own sinful desires want it to. This is a picture of our own pilgrimage. We take detours not because of circumstances beyond our control, but because of our own sinful choices. God promises He will never let go of one of His children. Like the hound of heaven, He pursues us and confronts of with the same message of grace.
Though this loss is devastating, a greater enemy will soon camp at Judah’s door. Tomorrow we will see how Jehoshaphat’s response to this rebuke helps prepare him for an even more terrifying enemy. For now, think back to the last time the Lord rebuked you for sinful behavior that resulted in hurtful unchangeable consequences. Did you hear the grace in His call to repentance? Where there is sin, there is hope, because God made a way out of despair through the gift of Jesus. You are at a crossroads, which pathway will you choose?
I see myself in Jehoshaphat’s sinful choice to forget God’s past faithfulness and choose independence instead of dependence. I can see myself reacting with pride to rebuke, rationalizing why I behaved sinfully. Lord, instead, lead me into a path of humility and dependence on You.